The Sri Lankan bowling attack skittled the Proteas out for 126 on day two of the first Test, putting them 161-runs behind.
A horror first session saw the Proteas limp to 86-6 at lunch, after the Proteas top order failed to cope with Sri Lanka’s spin trio who did all the morning’s bowling and damage. It took 36 overs until pace was introduced for the first time in the shape of Sri Lanka’s skipper Suranga Lakmal.
Proteas captain Faf du Plessis faced the difficult task of marshalling the tail after the break and, having avoided the follow-on, he set about shaving some runs off the 287 mark set by Sri Lanka on day one.
Sri Lanka continued to torment the Proteas with spin. They started the second session with Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera, the duo that had combined to take four wickets in the first session.
Vernon Philander and Du Plessis executed the battle of patience to perfection, before the captain brought up the Proteas’ 100 with a slog-sweep for four in the 44th over, after which he reverted to stoic defence.
Their patience paid off. On the first ball of the 49th over Du Plessis welcomed Lakmal back into the attack by despatching him through the covers with a beautiful drive for four, followed by a lucky edge between slip and gully off the fourth ball of the over for a second boundary.
The Du Plessis-Philander partnership added 64 for the seventh wicket before their stubborn resistance was ended with Philander trapped lbw, Perera picking up his fourth wicket.
Their opponents’ lack of a pace attack was expected to hand the Proteas a stepping stone back into the contest but, instead, it proved to be their executioner. On 49, Du Plessis was sliced in half by a perfect inswinger from Lakmal that beat the Proteas skipper’s bat and crashed into the top of off-stump.
Kagiso Rabada faced a similar fate as the left-handed batsman had no answer to an inswinger from Lakmal coming around the wicket. The ball slid past Rabada’s defensive attempt and crashed into the top of off-stump.
Dale Steyn was the last wicket to fall, top-edging a short ball from Lakmal for a simple catch in the slips, as the Proteas were bowled for their lowest total in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka (first innings) 287 – Dimuth Karunaratne (157*), Kagiso Rabada 4-50, Tabraiz Shamsi 3-91.
South Africa (first innings) 126 – Faf du Plessis (49), Dilruwan Perera (4-46), Suranga Lakmal (3-21), Rangana Herath (2-34)
Photo: Lakruwan Wanniarchchi/AFP/Getty Images